Glyphs & Graphs is a writing experiment by Naveen Srivatsav - an attempt at hypertext wordplay, intentionally amorphous thought experiments non-committal to any specific genre or topic. Enjoy, and feel free to reach out via social media.

Superboys last all century long

Superboys last all century long

Hallo Freddy. Whutcha been up to today? Did you have fun at the party? Were there a lot of people there? There must have been I imagine. P IS the most popular guy in school anyways. But I wonder how many of the people he invited he really knew. I mean, he even invited me you know? I just decided not to go. On principle. I hardly know the guy. A party is among friends, or at least it’s supposed to be. P and I are NOT friends. So I didn’t go. I don’t look forward to miniscule slices of cake anyway. Cake sucks; nowadays I can even taste the salt in the icing. And besides, I KNEW he invited so many people even his spacious backyard would be teeming, seething even, with human movement…I…have issues about touching, you know that right?

So tell me. How was it inside? The loud music, the dim lights, the free beer. Yeesh I can’t imagine. I mean I try but I don’t get past the front door. Tell me tell me already. What were the jocks showing off this time? Cars, abs or tolerance for alcohol? Where did the misfit wannabe-snagbobs end up? Did the cheerleaders actually pick up synchronised swimming for the first time ever? All in all, everyone probably had a good time. Can you imagine me there? I can’t.

That’s what I never understood Freddy. How come I can’t be normal? I can’t be like them. And I know that, no matter how hard I try, I can’t. And I can’t decide if that’s a boon or a curse. But if I can’t be like them, I’m actually ok with that. They are flawed. They’re misguided, broken…flawed. It’s just that, their flaw is the reason they’re so beautiful. That’s not to say you aren’t beautiful Freddy. You’re perfect. You were made to be perfect. Perfect as in opposite of flawed. They can’t control what they’re going to be like. They just hope it was worth it having that hour of fun. But they can control what you’re like. And you can control what you’re like too. Easily! Not a single blemish, not a single flaw in programming. Even your face is perfectly symmetrical, and we all know super-symmetry is the reason there is order. If I can’t be like them, then I want to be like you Freddy. I’d really like that. If I had one wish, I would wish to be a real toy.

But I can’t. Even the very act of wishing to be perfect means I am not already. And perfection is also about symmetry, even in time. You were perfect from the moment you were conceived in someone’s imagination. You were perfect even as you were made component by component. You are perfect in that your mechanical parts will never fail unless something imperfect affects you. And perhaps not even then. You can never become [more] perfect. You just are or aren’t. Right? Right.

I’m tired Freddy. So tired. I like to imagine that it’s not my spine holding me up; it’s my strong spirit. Mind over matter, you know? And that makes me wonder. Mind in matter separates animate from inanimate. Mind is a function or cause of life, or perhaps effect? Are you alive Freddy? What does it mean to be alive?

Is it sensory perception? If you feel, hear, see in any way at all, then you’re alive? Bacteria flagellate, and viruses land on and inject, therefore infecting the host cell. Surely there’s a primitive sense of touch and motion? A cosmic play of precession as the primary trigger, plot and anti-climax?

Or is being alive purely about survival? If you demonstrate ingenious adaptation, or resilience to adversity, then you’re alive? Isn’t that what evolution is about? Ensuring survival? If so, what is the survival for? Is there something genes want to live to see? That’s worth the time and effort?

Or is being alive about sentience? And how do we distinguish between sensory perception and sentience? Where do we draw the line? Are jellyfish less alive than fish? Are animals less alive than humans?

Is there some quantification of alive-ness, as if it were a resource? The gamer’s HP-bar. Spare me a medkit dammit, I’m half as alive as you are. You dig Freddy?

Or is being alive about intelligence? Strange loops, Hofstadter-style? Then you’d be alive too. No Freddy, don’t get me wrong. I think you’re alive definitely. You’re my best friend dammit. But you don’t even have voting rights, do you? That’s what I’m talking about. Should you? Hell yeah. At least you have the sense to support neo-Marxism. By that alone, you demonstrate more sense than most of the populace, I assure you.

I guess what I’m saying is, is there a checklist for being alive? Some list which you tick off positive results and conclude with certainty that you’re alive?

Humans are social creatures; our greatest invention was language after all. It was the most ingenious idea; to attach ideas to sounds and symbols and make the entire package known to more than the small group that created it. The first open-source movement perhaps? Caveman’s GNU GPL, with less lawyers. So is there a list to check for effective communication?

If so, a formula to calculate trust or loyalty? A vector equation to describe the gamut of emotional extremes? An index to rate love? I wonder if those are in your OS? C’mon Freddy, you gotta tell me. They programmed you to love unconditonally. What were the parameters? Which one was the one they maxed out? Freddy?

You. Have. No. Idea. How. Important. This. Is. To. Me. Tell me. And don’t say you don’t know. The kernel source code is in the repositories. Go through it; reverse engineer in safe mode. Please? Freddy? No it’s NOT the same as decommissioning. You DO have a safe mode don’t you? Oh. You don’t? To really simulate normal human behaviour? You even have idle-state mode to simulate sleep but none similar to coma or catatonia. Interesting. I’d assume those are pretty normal for a human too. Stoning and hysteria anyone?

For what I’m about to do, I’m truly sorry Freddy. You don’t need my apology cos you’re unconditionally loyal to me but I still apologise cos I’m unconditionally thankful for your company. I don’t know if I can put you together again, you’re a technological marvel; a 22nd century Humpty Dumpty. I fear all my robotics and mechanics credits won’t be enough to guarantee being able to put you back again. But I must know what those software engineers wrote. They did a pretty good job playing God. Better than the real thing, if I say so myself. Charlie Chaplin once came in third in a Chaplin lookalike contest. Baudrillard would be proud.

Don’t you see? By the very act of not knowing love without explanation, of not feeling it like others do, I’m condemned and faulty, which is unlike flawed. Being flawed is melancholic. Being spoilt and broken is a crime. The irony is that in order to miss you, and grieve your loss, I must dismantle you first, and find that equation. The effect gives tragic meaning to the cause. I’m sorry again Freddy, and don’t say don’t apologise.

Goodbye Freddy. I fear, and can only hope it’s not a placebo velvet heart in there. AusWiz Tech made you; it might’ve been fitting. Here goes nothing.


The things that drove him silent

The things that drove him silent